Startup Aims to Make Funeral Costs Transparent - NBC4 Washington
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Startup Aims to Make Funeral Costs Transparent

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Website Tries to Make Funeral Costs Transparent

    Planning a funeral can be a painful and expensive process. The last thing you want to do when grieving is call a long list of funeral homes to compare prices. Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan reports on a new website that's here to help. (Published Monday, Sept. 9, 2019)

    Planning a funeral can be a painful and expensive process, but Funeralocity tries to make the process easier. Starting with a simple search, the startup website allows users to compare funeral and cremation costs, ratings and services in a number of major cities in the U.S., including the D.C. area. Funeralocity aims to bring transparency to families and loved ones by providing detailed information about different funeral options all in one place, according to the company’s website.

    “People need to make decisions and look at this and contemplate this, yes shop for it, in the privacy of their own home, not when they’re in a grief-stricken state,” founder and CEO Ed Michael Reggie said. “They need to look and see what the prices are, and you know, price isn’t everything … Price, though, is one component in ascertaining what value is.”

    The website has a user-friendly interface, asking users to start with a basic search by entering city or ZIP code. From there, users are brought to a list featuring dozens of funeral home options with pricing, name and location displayed boldly on the front page. The website includes filters like service type and radius from location for even more personalized search results.

    After clicking on a funeral option, Funeralocity includes an itemized list of what everything costs, from embalming and casketing, to transfer costs to the funeral home or crematory. The website offers four service types: full service cremation, direct cremation, traditional full service burial and simple burial.

    The funeral home industry is notoriously opaque in their services and pricing, which is an inconvenience for grieving loved ones trying to efficiently search for the most affordable option. According to a 2018 report by the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America, only 27 percent of funeral homes with websites posted any prices online, and only 16 percent posted their complete General Price List on its website. By being an online service, Funeralocity not only allows consumers to compare several prices simultaneously, but also allows families to conduct their searches remotely and in the privacy of their own home.

    In addition to creating a personalized database for funeral price comparison, Funeralocity makes it easier for users to benefit from the Federal Trade Commission’s “funeral rule,” which was put into effect in 1984 and protects consumer rights while barring unfair practices in the funeral industry.

    The “funeral rule” allows families flexibility to only buy the services they want, get price information over the phone and have access to an itemized written statement listing every service and its price before you pay, among other explicit rights.

    For example, when a loved one dies, families don’t have to buy an entire package. They can buy a casket and certain services separately and provide these private purchases to the funeral home and without any additional charge.

    Funeralocity designates certain funeral homes as “excellence providers” to mark companies that have successfully passed Funeralocity’s vetting practices that ensure licenses are up to date and that the companies meet government standards. These companies marked as “excellence providers” have agreed to extend discounts to users choosing them through Funeralocity.

    By creating transparency in the funeral industry, Funeralocity may encourage more funeral service providers to advertise prices on their website to better serve consumers in the future. Funeralocity’s website is free to use.

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